LIFE OF CHRIST
In our last lesson we jumped from the middle of Luke 13 back to John 10. Well, as we keep things in chronological order, we will now jump back to:
Luke 13:22 And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem.
It would be a couple of months before Jesus would actually make it to Jerusalem. So, when it says He was journeying toward Jerusalem, this was by no means making a straight journey there because, as our text says, He was making His way through as many cities and villages as He could before it was time for Him to actually be in Jerusalem.
We already know that Jesus knew what awaited Him, and like any human, He was not looking forward to the torture, but He knew what He had to do was necessary for all mankind. We can all relate to a degree on how this would have weighed on Jesus’s mind because most of us have had to go to a doctor for a surgery, tests, or dental work that we did not really want to do, but we knew that it was necessary. Of course, that feeling of dread that we felt as the time got closer to go the doctor, would be far greater for Jesus because He would have to endure something far worse than some medical procedure because His ordeal would end in a painful death.
Luke 13:23 Then one said to Him, "Lord, are there few who are saved?" And He said to them, 24 "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.
We have no idea who this one is that came up to ask Jesus this question, but the Greek indicates that this was the man. He asked a great question, “are there few who are saved?” Now Jesus does not come right out with a yes or no this time, but His answer is implied in what follows. Now, Jesus certainly answers this question with a definite yes, in Mt. 7:13-14 because He specifically says that only a few will find their way to that narrow gate that lead to heaven.
Jesus tells them to strive. This word is defined as follows:
Louw-Nida Lexicon: to engage in intense struggle, involving physical or nonphysical force against strong opposition - 'to struggle, to fight.
This definition fits perfectly with Jesus said in Mt. 7:14 because He said the way to eternal life in heaven is difficult. No wonder Paul told us to fight the good fight of faith. Many people today just do not seem to get how hard it really is to live the Christian life in the way that God wants us to live it. They like to dumb down Christianity so far that instead of asking “are there a few who are saved” they would ask, “is anybody really lost?” Friends, living the Christian life is a fight and struggle because it is so easy to do the least that you can instead of doing the best that you can.
Jesus is about to explain what He means about how many will seek to enter into heaven, but they will not be able to enter. Jesus says in:
25 "When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open for us,' and He will answer and say to you, 'I do not know you, where you are from,' 26 "then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.' 27 "But He will say, 'I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.' 28 "There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. 29 "They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God. 30 "And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last."
The thought here is similar to what Jesus said in Mt. 7:21ff and also with the parable of the 10 virgins in Matthew 25. In these verses, Jesus is talking about the final judgment day, and it shows how men like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the other prophets are going to be on the inside. He even makes reference how all those who are allowed into the kingdom of heaven will come from the four corners of the earth, which would include Jews and Gentiles.
Then you have these people who ate and drank in His presence and were there to hear Him teach in their streets. The problem was, that these people may have gotten close to Jesus and even listened to Him preach or as Matthew’s account says, they may have even done some good works in His name, but they did not make the commitment to live for Him. They did not fight the good fight of faith, they simply did a few good works and maybe talked about how they saw Jesus once and even heard Him speak, but that is not enough.
These are kind of like the people you see accepting awards on TV. They get up there and might say some dirty joke or get bleeped because they said a cuss word or two and then out of that same mouth, you will hear them thank God. So, yes. There will be a lot people who will want to be in heaven at the end of time, and they may try and argue that they told people all the time that they loved Jesus, but the answer will be the same.
I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.'
I feel sorry for the people today who have lost their respect for God and His Word because I can promise you, they will regain that respect, but for many of them it will be too late. While it is sad that only few will fight the good fight of faith and lay hold of eternal life in heaven, you can make sure that you are among the few by living for God and giving Him your best.
Luke 13:31 On that very day some Pharisees came, saying to Him, "Get out and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You." 32 And He said to them, "Go, tell that fox, 'Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.' 33 "Nevertheless I must journey today, tomorrow, and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem.
That very day or that very hour, as some translate it, a Pharisee comes to him and warns Jesus to leave the area because Herod wants to kill him. Some think that this man was lying, but if he was, Jesus did not point this out. Instead, He gave the man a response to give to Herod. When Jesus calls him a fox, this is not a compliment because this figuratively means a crafty sly person.
Jesus wants Herod and this Pharisee to know that He is not going to be intimidated and He is going to continue His work of casting out demons and healing people today, tomorrow, and then on the 3rd day He will be perfected. This is one of those vague verses that can have more than one meaning.
For example, some think Jesus is referring to 3 literal days, and that He saying that He will be out of Herod’s territory and done with His work in that area in 3 days. It might help you see this view better if you see how the ESV and others translate the verse. It says:
ESV Luke 13:32 And he said to them, "Go and tell that fox, 'Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.
NET says … complete my work.
NIV says … reach my goal.
So, this view of 3 literal days is certainly a possibility. However, others argue that Jesus is not referring to 3 literal days, but is metaphorically referring to the short time He has left until He finishes His work on the earth and is crucified. Either view does no harm to the text, so I personally do not have a problem with either view.
Jesus knew He would not die where He was because, like the prophets, He would be killed in Jerusalem.
34 " O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! 35 "See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!' "
Jesus will say this again later on when we get to Mt. 23, but we can see how much love Jesus has for His people. He knows Jerusalem will be destroyed by the Roman army in A.D. 70. He would love for His people to wake up and stop rejecting Him because if they would turn to Him, He could protect them and care for them like a hen protects its young. If you have ever spent any time around a hen and her young, you would know that she is very protective of them. If danger comes, she will call them to her and put herself in harms way. In fact, I like what I Adam Clarke wrote regarding a hen.
The following beautiful Greek epigram, taken from the Anthologia, affords a very fine illustration of this text.
Beneath her fostering wing the Hen defends
Her darling offspring, while the snow descends;
Throughout the winter's day unmoved defies
The chilling fleeces and inclement skies;
Till, vanquish'd by the cold and piercing blast,
True to her charge, she perishes at last!
O Fame! to hell this fowl's affection bear;
Tell it to Progne and Medea there: -
To mothers such as those the tale unfold,
And let them blush to hear the story told! -
Just think about how many Jew’s could have had their
lives spared in A.D. 70 if they had not rejected Jesus and His message. Though
the city would fall, they could have listened to Jesus’ warnings of when to
flee the city, but over 1 million Jews died during that time. What a shame
because not only did they lose their physical lives, they died outside of
Christ as well.
We should really think about this idea of how Jesus was willing to be like a hen with her young because this means He is the same with us. Those who will listen to Him will be under His protection and He will always be there for us. He has already proven that He was willing to die for us, so we should have great confidence in our Lord. Look at verse 35 again:
35 "See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!' "
The temple used to be God’s house, but it was no
longer God’s house because the Jews had made it into their house and now it is
left to them desolate or we could say empty. They basically had pushed God out
of their lives and so there was no reason for Him to be present where He was
There are many churches in our nation that this happening to as well. While they assemble together and call themselves Christians, they do their own thing. They invent their own way of worship and the create new traditions to follow after, so God has not reason to be in their assemblies. In fact, I would say that their lamp stand was removed a long time ago as talked about in the Book of Revelation.
I believe the last part of our verse refers to when Jesus will come again at the final judgment. Now, let’s move on to chapter 14.
Luke 14:1 Now it happened, as He went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees to eat bread on the Sabbath, that they watched Him closely. 2 And behold, there was a certain man before Him who had dropsy. 3 And Jesus, answering, spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?" 4 But they kept silent. And He took him and healed him, and let him go.
Jesus is just going about His normal routine as he goes into the Pharisees house to eat bread. As, we have seen many times before there is going to be a problem because it is the Sabbath Day. Our text tells us that they watched Him closely. Our word ‘watched’ means to watch insidiously.
I want you to think about this for just a second. Jesus Himself taught that whatever people do to Him, they will do it to His followers as well. Let us never forget that we have people watching us, especially those who want to trap us in something so they can say something like, “see, he is not any better than me or you, because he did this sinful thing. So, who is he to be trying to teach us about God and how do to live a Christian life.” While we are not Jesus, let us continue to strive to be like Him and set the example for others.
There is a man there who had dropsy, which is a condition that causes you to swell with water. We will never know, in this lifetime, if this man just happened to be there or was planted by the Pharisees. Since they were watching Him closely, I would say the odds are pretty strong that he planted.
Jesus knew what he was going to do for this sick man, and he also knew that the Pharisees were looking for an opportunity to accuse Him of doing something wrong, but before they say a word, Jesus ask them if was lawful to heal on the Sabbath. Jesus was not asking them about their traditions, but about the Law of Moses. You will notice they remained silent because, if they said, “yes, it is wrong” then they would make the people in that house mad, and they would look like cold hearted men. Besides this, they could not produce a Scripture that would say it was wrong to heal on the Sabbath. If they answered, “no, there is nothing wrong with healing on the Sabbath” then it would show they were wrong all the times they tried to rebuke Jesus for doing such things on the Sabbath.
Jesus heals the man, and lets him go, but Jesus is not finished with Pharisees and lawyers. Notice what He says next:
5 Then He answered them, saying, "Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?" 6 And they could not answer Him regarding these things.
Jesus is pointing out their dual standard. They have one standard for Jesus doing something good on the Sabath, but another standard for themselves because they would not hesitate to help free a donkey or an ox from a pit. When Jesus said this, they could not answer because they knew that Jesus had trapped them in this dual standard of theirs.
As Christians, we have to be careful that we do not fall into this same mindset as the Pharisees and lawyers, but it is easy to do sometimes. We have to be careful about pointing our fingers at someone else because of what they are doing wrong and then not applying the same standard to ourselves or to our loved ones. So, let’s do our best to not do that.
Next, we read:
Luke 14:7 So He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noted how they chose the best places, saying to them: 8 "When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; 9 "and he who invited you and him come and say to you, 'Give place to this man,' and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 "But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, 'Friend, go up higher.' Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. 11 "For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
This parable is all about being humble, which many of the Pharisees were not. You can just imagine these men trying to get the best seats of honor, which were the ones closer to the host. As Jesus will point out later in Mt. 23, this was a common occurrence among the Pharisees. So, Jesus is rebuking the behavior of the Pharisees as this feast. His point is this. Don’t force your self-proclaimed value on others because if you sit in the most honored position, you might find yourself being removed in front of everyone, which will be an embarrassment to you and your self-inflated ego.
However, if you take the humble approach and sit in a less honorable place, you might be asked to move up to a more honorable position. This should be a Christain’s approach to life as we follow Jesus’ example. After all, He came to serve and not be served. We are taught to do the same. I am also reminded of what Paul said:
Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
Next, Jesus rebukes the host of the feast:
Luke 14:12 Then He also said to him who invited Him, "When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. 13 "But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. 14 "And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just."
First, I do not believe that Jesus is saying that you should never have dinner for your family and friends, but the emphasis is on having these dinners to gain favor with your family and friends so they might pay you back or that it might cause some gain for you. We need to understand that one of the ways people could advance politically in their community was by entertaining and rubbing elbows with the elite. This is also done today. The meal was not being given just for the purpose of fellowship or to help out those who were in need, it was about the host trying to better himself.
However, Jesus lets him know that instead of throwing these feasts for personal gain in this world for people who have no problem feeding themselves, do it for the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind. He points out how He will receive a much greater reward on the day judgment for doing good works for these people who cannot repay than for these others who can. Of course, Jesus expounds on this concept in Mt. 25 and it goes along with what He asked in:
Matthew 5:46 "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 "And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?
It is so easy to do good for those whom we love and trust, but Jesus sets the standard higher for us than that because we are to love our enemies and do good to all. This leads us right into another parable.
Luke 14:15 Now when one of those who sat at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, "Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!" 16 Then He said to him, "A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, 17 "and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, 'Come, for all things are now ready.' 18 "But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, 'I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.' 19 "And another said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.' 20 "Still another said, 'I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.' 21 "So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.' 22 "And the servant said, 'Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.' 23 "Then the master said to the servant, 'Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 'For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.' "
When the man says, "Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!" it prompts Jesus to tell another parable. When someone in the first century would have a great banquet, they would invite long before the event, and when people said they would come, they were expected to come. When the feast was ready, the servant went out to get the guests to come. However, they all begin to give lame excuses that were nothing more than lies. The reason I say this is because who buys some land without inspecting it first, and who would buy Oxen without testing them first. Also, nothing in the Law of Moses would keep a newlywed from attending a feast.
All of this is referring to the rejection of Jesus and the kingdom He would bring forth. There are many guilty of this same thing as they continue to make lame excuses of why they are not ready to learn about God or to go to church. We also have Christians who make up lame excuses of why they do not attend services that often. So, we need to be careful about doing this. While there are valid excuses we can give, let’s not make up lies about why we do not do this or that or else we will not be any different than these men Jesus is talking about.
As you would expect, when the master heard all these lame excuses, it made Him angry, but He was not going to allow His feast to go to waste. So, he has the servant invite the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind. These would be the people that the Pharisees would look down on and avoid, but there was more room. So, the Master sends his servant out into the highways and hedges, which is referring to the Gentiles.
As you read through the NT, you will see that it was these groups of people that were usually more responsive to the gospel and what Jesus had to offer than most of the Jews. So, Jesus makes it clear that those Jews who reject Him and His kingdom, will not have any part of it and will not be able to step one foot into heaven. Of course, this applies to anyone who rejects Jesus.
I hope that none of us every refuses the invitation from Jesus, especially by making lame excuses because if we do, we will not make it to heaven. We also need to be like that servant and continue to go out into the world inviting people to know Jesus. Hopefully, they will accept the invitation.
We will pick up right where left off next time. I hope this lesson has taught you some valuable lessons about the importance of really living for God and doing His will. I also hope you have seen the need to be humble and to look beyond yourself as you think about others especially the needy. Finally, I hope you have seen the need to invite people to know Jesus and His way.